The Collected Letters, Volume 4


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 10 April 1826; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18260410-JBW-TC-01; CL 4:71-73.


Haddington 10th [April 1826]

My Dearest

You are thinking, I presume, that I might have done your bidding with less delay; but, the fact is I have not lost one minute that could be saved— Judge if I have— Your letter found me in the saddest domestic burble imaginable; our maid-servant lay in one part of the house at death's door with fever and asthma; in another part of it lay my Mother about as ill with an attack of bile; and to crown all, just in this evil nick, a “fool-creature” must needs come on a visit— While things were in this way, as you may well conceive, I had no leisure to make the needful disclosures; besides it was no propitious season for my Mother to hear them in: and a week passed before the household was convalescent and the “fool-creature” departed, and my hands thus left free to go about my Master's business. So you see I am no bad Ariel after all.

Eh bien! I have informed my Mother in a long letter of all which it concerned her to know (so long a speech being, as Jane1 says “beyond the utmost compass of my ability”) and the result is—what do you think? that, provided we manage matters aright, you and I are soon to be the happiest pair of people in all Annandale!

My Mother does not object to my wedding you in your actual circumstances; on the contrary, she thinks it all things considered the best I can do; and neither does she object to my living with you in your Fatherland which shows a heroism on her part that I did not dare to look for. In short my kind reasonable Mother views our romantic project with all the favour that heart could desire—and not by the cold, bleak light of worldly prudence, but the rosy sun-light of poetry which is in this case truth.2

And we will not be purchasing our happiness at the cost of hers; for she will live (she says) at Templand and visit us as often as may be: and this arrangement I believe after all, is the very best that the case admits— My Mother is fond of Nithsdale, and we will make her fond of Annandale also. In the one place she will have kind friends about her, whom she dearly likes, and within her the consciousness of doing good to her Father and Sister; in the other she will find you and I, ourselves a host, and will not be fremd [strange], she declares to me, with your kindred, but esteem them as they deserve. Moreover, the other plan, however well it had been proved to answer, could not, I find, have had any permanency— My Grandfather must, in the course of Nature, be taken from us at no distant day; and my Aunt would then be left alone and helpless were not my Mother to become her protector— That must not be—is not to be thought of— In going to live with her now, then, my Mother is only anticipitating what must be, as far as human calculation reaches, her ultimate destination; and in thus anticipating it she will have the comfort of watching over her Fathers declining age, and adding to his scanty accomodations: a comfort which will atone to her Mother's-heart for the partial loss of her Daughter's company— On these grounds, she prefers that we should have separate households; and on these grounds I am willing that we should—so what more remains to be said?— Are you happy? You must be the most ungrateful of mortals if [you] are not, in the near prospect of having such a Wife! Oh mein Gott such a Wife!

The strangest thing has just occur[r]ed, which I cannot but view as an omen that the Gods are with us. A proposal is come to my Mother from Dr Fyffe, since I began writing, to take this home off our hands upon any terms; and we have never yet mentioned to any that we thought of disposing of it! Was there ever anything so providential? “Oh wie kalt, wie dumm ist dieser Brief; meine Mutter sieht es; und ich scheue mich ihr zu zeigen meiner ganze Seele” [“Oh, how cold, how stupid this letter is; my Mother sees it, and I dread showing her my whole soul”]!

But my Mother is waiting to write a postscript so I must make an end of this ugly letter, the matter of which I trust will make ammends for the manner[.]

For ever Yours

Jane B Welsh

[Mrs. Welsh's postscript:] My dear Sir,

Jane has read to me what she has communicated to you respecting our future destination, which I trust will meet with your approval. This long perplexing emigration of ours now draws to a close. May God grant that it may draw us all together in the bonds of love and happiness with every good wish for your welfare[.] Believe me in affection what you wd wish the Mother of your Jane to be

G Welsh